DO THE HARLEM SHAKE

By Alexis Morillo

Organizers and spectators alike at a Harlem Shake in Halle (Salle), Germany. Image courtesy of flickr.com

Organizers and spectators alike at a Harlem Shake in Halle (Salle), Germany. Image courtesy of flickr.com

It has become a commonality for our generation to obsess over the latest fad or Internet craze. In mid-February the most recent trend took over—the Harlem Shake. What many people do not realize though, is that the true Harlem Shake has been around for almost ten years and is not anything like the videos we see on the world wide web. It originated in Harlem, New York and was first seen in a music video for a song titled “Let’s Get It” by G. Dep. The original Harlem Shake was a dance move consisting of shoulder shrugs and shuffling feet, similar to the Charleston. Yet the Harlem Shake that has recently taken over popular culture is based off of a track by Baauer, an American DJ and producer, also called “Harlem Shake.” The song is three minutes and twenty-seven seconds of bass, Dutch synth riffs, a catchy hip hop beat and only a few lyrics. It was originally released in May of 2012, but started selling this past February due to an Internet meme- a phrase or picture that becomes popular through the Internet by way of websites and online forums. When a video mockery of the song was uploaded to YouTube, thousands of people immediately followed and uploaded similar videos. Each video is about thirty seconds long and uses the chorus from Baauer’s song. Typically, they begin with a few people dancing, and once the bass drops, more people join in and dance; many of the videos also include a variety of costumes and crazy props.

However, residents of Harlem and fans of the original Harlem Shake dance move are not nearly as thrilled about the trend, with the Yahoo homepage even posting a video capturing the overwhelmingly negative opinions of Harlem citizens on the new craze. People went as far as saying that the new videos were a disrespectful mockery, and made the whole Harlem neighborhood look bad. Nevertheless, this trend remains immensely popular on the Internet, with as many as 4,000 Harlem Shake videos being uploaded daily.

Hunterdon Central also joined in on the viral video extravaganza. Junior Hannah Bruzzio took it upon herself to organize and film a Harlem Shake video starring Central students. Even as the fad had already started to subside a bit towards the end of February, she still planned this school wide event because, “I wanted to see the school come together in a way that was exciting and fun and not for any sports team, or academic or dress code-hating purposes.” This small idea of hers blew up once she created an event group on Facebook to spread the word. According to Bruzzio: “I originally made a Facebook group with 200 of my friends invited, and it grew from there and ended up with 1,500 people invited.” Then, after getting the administration’s help to keep the filming as quick and safe as possible, on February 22nd around 250 people showed up in the Commons eating area of the 11-12 building sporting horse masks, crazy clothes and even an inflatable ostrich costume. With the help of the administration, filming was done in an orderly fashion and the only restriction was that there was to be no dancing on top of the cafeteria tables. Hannah asked Mr. Carr, the Vice Principal of the Junior class, for assistance, and he was very supportive of her idea, though some argued that the school administration should not have been involved. As sophomore student Jon Spilletti explains, “It would have been cool to see students come together without any adult help and have them be independent by guiding themselves in making the video.” As for the final product, Hunterdon Central’s Harlem Shake video has over 3,000 views on YouTube, and although opinions remain polarized on the success of the video, as a way of bringing the student body together to finally do something not related to schoolwork, this was indeed a success.

Featured image courtesy of Hannah Bruzzio. 

About admin